Is anything digital better than analog?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Thik Nongyow, Aug 21, 2002.

  1. Thik Nongyow

    Thik Nongyow Stunt Coordinator

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    A technology question:

    People are excited on digital technology (HDTV, watches, DVDs, CDs, D-VHS, computers, etc.) and find analog technology either outdated, inaccurate or unsophisticated. But, is anything that is digital "superior" than something that is analog?
     
  2. Bjorn Olav Nyberg

    Bjorn Olav Nyberg Supporting Actor

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    Some people still prefer vinyl to CD's as one example... But the situation may be specific to music, can't think of any other obvious examples offhand.
     
  3. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Bjorn must have misread the question. The common concept is usually a pref to analog over digital, and Thik asked if there are cases where the digital is preferred (not the other way around).
    I would think Digital DVD picture versus Analog Laserdisc would be a prime example. While Laser did have an advantage that is obvious on many black and white films, I think overall the analog video signal on LD would be considered by the VAST majority to be inferior to the DVD pic which is digital.
    Actually- the only place you find a real pref for analog is in Audio. I know I certainly prefer this digital internet over the old analog one. [​IMG]
    -V
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  5. Neil M

    Neil M Stunt Coordinator

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    The difference between digital and analog is the way the information is stored. I would say that digital is superior just for the simple fact that the quality will never downgrade. People who prefer vinyl enjoy it mostly for the nostalgic factor. Vinyl quality will become worse as you listen to it more and more. Thats not to say that it is worthless. People can argue whether or not it is superior but the simple fact is that analog is outdated and will someday be nonexistent. If you need more information on it, I may be able to answer some questions or you could do a web search and see how the technologies work.
     
  6. AllanN

    AllanN Supporting Actor

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    IMHO consumer 35mm still cameras are far superior to current consumer digital cameras.
     
  7. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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    The question: Is anything digital better than analog?
    The answer: Not necessarily.
    The why: The only difference between "digital" and "analog" is the way the information is stored, as Neil said. Analog information is stored as a waveform, whereas digital information is just a bunch of ones and zeros. Here's what digital has over analog: Unlimited copies with no degredation. Unlimited viewings with no degredation. Ability to store on any digital storage media.
    Typically, digital is of much better quality than analog. This, however, is not always the case. It's just as easy to store an inferior copy digitally. Some examples:
    - Copy a cassette tape to your computer and store it uncompressed. Which is better? The cassette tape. Why? The analog copy had to be dubbed into the computer before being stored. Thus, there was loss present between the source deck and the computer, and likely noise introduced by both devices, cables, etc. However, listen to teh cassette another fifty times, and the digital copy is now better. Why? The cassette has degraded every time you listened. The digital copy was only degraded once, when you made it.
    - Record a band in a studio on a computer (digital), and on a high quality tape deck (analog). Which is better? Assuming both used the same microphones and source material, the digital copy will be more clean and crisp than the analog.
    - Compress the digital music you just recorded in the above example into fixed bit rate MP3 format of 128kb or less. Which is better? The analog, by far. MP3 compression is lossy and you will lose a bunch of information.
    Note that "tape" does not always equal "analog". Tons of digital information is stored on tape. MiniDV, for example, or DAT drives. Data backups are made to tape. The media is not what matters, it's the way it is stored: As a waveform, or as ones and zeros.
    One more example, before I get off my soapbox: Ever notice your cable company promoting digital cable as "better"? In most cases, the picture is much worse than regular old analog cable. Why? Well, for one, they use the same source material. For two, they compress multiple digital channels into the space normally taken up by one analog channel. Plain and simple, the content on every digital cable setup I've ever seen has looked like shit. They tear the original signal up before sending it down the line to you. The fact that it's digital does not make it better.
     
  8. Bill Slack

    Bill Slack Supporting Actor

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    The point of digital is to get it as close to accurate as the original ANALOG source. If the digital information is accurate and of high enough quality, you can then reproduce the original to a point of near perfection (I'm not saying this is often, or ever, achieved at this point...) The whole point of digital it to make the transmission and storage of the data more efficient and robust. The whole point is to reproduce the original analog likeness though (meaning the actual sound or picture you see, not a laserdisc or LP)

    Analog is the ideal that digital is striving for.
     
  9. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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  10. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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    I'm sure everyone will agree that digital media sure beats the heck out of anything analog (punch cards, etc). Now of course, this refers to the actual media itself and not what is stored on the media.
     
  11. Bjorn Olav Nyberg

    Bjorn Olav Nyberg Supporting Actor

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    Actually Vince may have misread my answer [​IMG]
    I know my english could definitively be better, but the way I read it, my answer comes to the same conclusion as yours Vince...
     
  12. Kevin Farley

    Kevin Farley Second Unit

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    I disagree with you on digital audio, Robert. There is a quality to analog that digital has come close to approximating, but it isn't there yet, IMHO. Perhaps really high sampling rates and very large bit sizes, or Sony's new system of encoding will get there someday. There is a warmth, however, that I've never felt from digital, although I like some digital releases.
     
  13. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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  14. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Actually our eyes and ears are DIGITAL sensors. The retina is made up of rods and cones: little pixel sensors as it were. The software in the brain IIRC performs the smoothing functions, making it only appear that we see in a continuous manner. The same is true with the ear. We have lots of tiny hairs, serving as tuning forks, each attached to a nerve. So we receive sound in the frequency domain in a digital format, and the brain again IIRC converts the sound from frequency domain into time domain. Dolby Digital makes use of this and throws out sounds you can't hear.
     
  15. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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  16. Michael*K

    Michael*K Screenwriter

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    I make a lot of audio recordings. Man, give me MiniDisc or Digital Audio Tape over analog cassette recordings anyday. I can't stand that annoying analog hiss.
     
  17. Greg Rowe

    Greg Rowe Stunt Coordinator

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  18. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Methink Vince misread both the question and the answer.

    Anyway, Bill said it very beautifully above, Analog is what Digital strives to achieve.

    I am surprised no one mentioned that digital information is also easier to process. Elementary operations are easier to perform in the analog domain (superposistion principle is natural addition), but as complexity rises analog processing becomes cumbersome very fast, and digital algorithms start coming in handy.

     
  19. Greg Rowe

    Greg Rowe Stunt Coordinator

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  20. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Greg, you said:
     

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